The Bethania Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976 with an amendment and boundary increase listed in 1991. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from copies of these 2 original nomination documents. [‡ ‡]
Bethania was further nominated as a National Landmark Historic District in 2001.
The Bethania Historic District comprises the entire village of Bethania, founded in 1759 as a self-sufficient Moravian farming community. In 1975, the town remains isolated, no larger than at its nineteenth century peak, and of the thirty-four buildings, thirteen predate the Civil War and seven were built in the late nineteenth century,
Bethania retains more of the general form than the specific detail of an eighteenth century Moravian town. The original town plan of 1759 — consisting of town lots flanking a main street extending north and south of a central square, a cemetery located east of the square, and garden lots extending out from the rectangular settlement in each direction — is intact with the exception of the square, which disappeared in the late eighteenth century.
The remarkably well-preserved village, composed like the classic western ghost town of just one street; has only one intrusion, a two-story brick store. Its compact, harmonious streetscape and intimate scale are created by the two-story houses clustered together on both sides of the narrow main street, with fieldstone foundations, crisp white clapboard walls and steep gable roofs. All of the pre-twentieth century houses abut the sidewalk, and most of these have wide front porches with shed roofs and end entrances rather than the customary center bay entrances. The sidewalk is paved with fieldstone, which extends up to the foundation walls of some of the houses and creates the effect of a domestic arcade through the porches extending end to end along the street. The fieldstone retaining wall and thick canopy of maple trees which border Main Street emphasize this pleasing unity. The houses are physically dominated by the 1809 brick Moravian church which stands on the east side of Main Street in the center of town, adjacent to the square site. This urban compactness, rare in North Carolina, is a product of Moravian town planning and sense of community.
The present Bethania Moravian Church, constructed between 1806-1809, is located on the northeast corner of the square site. The church is a rectangular brick building, the bays wide and four deep, with a steep gabled roof crowned by a cupola, a two-story brick 1913 addition extending to the east, and a smaller gabled brick 1965 vestibule addition on the south gable end main facade. The original main block burned in 1942, leaving only the walls standing, and was rebuilt within the original walls. The additions are compatible in style with the main block, which has a stuccoed fieldstone foundation, a rounded brick water table, Flemish bond brick walls, cove cornices, and round-arched sash windows with traceried upper sash and molded surrounds. The north gable end bears the date 1807 in glazed headers. This church is very similar to the early nineteenth century Salem Moravian Church, also of brick, with round-arched windows and a cupola. The original interior plan was typically Moravian, with the pulpit in the center of the long east wall and a choir balcony across each short end wall. The south gable end entrance was originally the men's entrance; the original women's entrance, now a window, was located in the north gable end. The original interior plan was not reconstructed, and now consists of a pulpit against the north wall and a balcony across the south wall. The corners of the plastered walls are deeply caved like those of the Salem Moravian Church.
God's Acre cemetery, reached by a narrow lane lined with red cedar trees, is located on the crest of the hill east of the church. The cemetery, enclosed by a picket fence, is laid out in four quarters, which are bounded by rows of ancient red cedars. Since the establishment of the cemetery in 1759, the graves have been arranged according to the Moravian choir system, with married and single men buried in the southwest section, married and single women in the northwest section, female children in the northeast section and male children in the southeast section. Of the approximately 500 gravestones, those which predate the 1830s are small flat stone or marble markers numbered in order of placement. Marker No. 1 is that of Mary Hauser, 1759-1760. After this period flat and vertical markers are intermingled. The most ornate marker is that of Israel George Lash, 1810-1878.
By 1760 Bethania had ten houses along Main Street; by 1768, eighteen houses. The original houses were apparently temporary frontier dwellings, for the first two-story house, that of Heinrich Shore, was not erected until 1768. These were evidently soon replaced, for on the fifty-year anniversary of the town's founding, in 1789, a speaker recalled that "...at first only small cabins were built, of which they are still standing in the Upper Town. Ten years later men began to build proper houses..." Because Bethania allowed non-Moravian residents from the beginning, the buildings probably did not reflect distinctive Moravian construction to the extent that the architecture of the nearby Salem settlement did. However, the pre-1850 buildings do have some typically, Moravian characteristics: dry-laid stone rubble cellars, log walls, indications of original central chimneys (typical of early northern houses), and hall-and-parlor floor plans.
Most of the antebellum Bethania houses combine elements of different construction periods. The lots, with foundation walls and cellars, have been frequently reused, and much modernization occurred about 1850 which erased most of the early decorative fabric. The individual buildings will be grouped for analysis by constructional types — log, brick-nogged wood frame, and wood frame — rather than by style.
The six two-story log houses — Jacob Loesch House (also spelled Jacob Lash; west side Main Street, opposite Moravian Church), Jacob Shore House (also known as Shore-Lehman House; 5524 Main Street), Abraham Transou House (5519 Main Street), Solomon Transou House (east side Main Street immediately north of Abraham Transou House), Michael Hauser House (northeast corner of junction of Main Street and Loeschs Lane), and the Reich-Strupe-Butner House (5575 Main Street; southeast corner of junction of Main Street and Loeschs Lane) — probably built from the late eighteenth to the early nineteenth century, represent the earliest constructional type. The Jacob Lash House, Jacob Shore House, and Michael Hauser House were remodeled about 1850, the others later in the century. The Jacob Lash House, built about 1790, is now  under restoration and will be analyzed as a prototype of this group. The Lash House, three bays wide and two deep, had a small cellar beneath the right rear roof, a central chimney, a tile roof, and four rooms on each level, each heated by a fireplace or stove. During the mid-nineteenth century the central chimney was replaced by interior end chimneys, the roof tiles were removed, the windows enlarged, the first floor plan altered, and the enclosed corner stair enlarged. The second story, however, is virtually unaltered, with plastered log walls and ceiling and a chair rail in the two left rooms and whitewashed log walls with exposed beaded ceiling joists in the two right rooms. The partition walls consist of wide vertical sheathing, some with beaded edges, some molded. Some of the original vertical batten doors with dovetailed stiles, typical of Moravian door construction, with HL and strap hinges and hand-carved wooden door handles and latches, remain throughout the house. The original attic stair, an open-string stair in the right rear room, has a simple, handsome railing of wide, shaped boards. One apparently original six-light sash with wide muntins remains. All of the original, visible nails are hand-wrought. Many of the handmade clay roof tiles are stored in the attic. An extant 1820 watercolor of Bethania shows each of the houses covered with siding, and it may be that these log houses were sided at the time of construction.
The Jacob Shore House and Solomon Transou House also originally had central chimneys, and presumably were similar in other details to the Jacob Lash House. Both now have interior end chimneys, and were remodeled a second time following the Civil War. The 1820 watercolor shows both central and interior end chimneys; thus the interior end chimneys, with corner fireplaces, of the Michael Hauser House and Reich-Strupe-Butner House are perhaps original, for no central chimney indications exist. Other original fabric common to both houses includes the fieldstone foundation and rear cellar, log walls, and probably the four-room floor plan and enclosed rear stair to the second floor, with cellar stair beneath this stair.
The exterior fabric of the Jacob Shore and Reich-Strupe-Butner houses is very similar, being Federal in style with windows which are small in relation to the wall surfaces, and gable end raking cornices with short eave returns. The exterior fabric of the Michael Hauser House is Greek Revival in style, with flush-sheathed pedimented gable ends and ovolo-molded trim. The interior openings have surrounds with corner blocks.
The first-floor right front room of the Reich-Strupe-Butner House has illusionistic painting on plaster walls and ceiling which is attributed to the painter, Naaman Reich, who owned and lived in the house from at least 1847 to his death in 1871. The ornament consists of the picturesque landscape scenes on the front wall, seen through trompe l'oeil windows within simulated marble walls: one a pastoral farm scene, the other a view of a grist mill and waterfall. Above the corner fireplace is a still life of fruit and flowers within an illusionary niche. A simulated modillion cornice and ceiling medallion complete the parlor. The painting is typical of the mid-nineteenth century American school of primitive landscape painting.
The Abraham Transou House, smaller than the other log houses, is perhaps the outbuilding shown on the rear of its present lot in the 1820 watercolor and moved to the front of the lot at a later date. The V-notched log house has whitewashed log walls, an interior end chimney, a dovetailed batten door with strap hinges, and a rear brick-nogged addition.
The next group of buildings consists of those with two-story mortise-and-tenon wood frames infilled with brick nogging: Daniel Butner House (east side Main Street immediately north of Solomon Transou House), Grabs-Conrad House (east side Main Street, 4th house north of junction of Main Street and Loeschs Lane), Hauser-Strupe House (west side Main Street immediately south of John Christian Lash House), John Christian Lash House (southeast corner of junction of Main Street and Loeschs Lane), Ed Butner House (east side Main Street immediately south of Abraham Transou House), and the Moravian Parsonage (south side God's Acre Alley). Brick nogging was used early in Bethania, for the 1771 Gemein Haus was constructed in this manner, and the earliest buildings of this group, the first four mentioned above, are probably contemporary with the log group, These early nogged houses do not differ substantially from the log group, but were large, more finely finished dwellings. An item in the Moravian Records of 1851, which describes the houses destroyed by fire, hints at this distinction: "...one a log house covered with weatherboard, the other a large fine frame house that had been repainted quite recently." The Daniel Butner House, which is under restoration, is the best preserved of this early group, and will be analyzed as a prototype. Three bays wide and three deep, it rests on a fieldstone foundation with a rear cellar, has a central chimney which was originally much more massive, and a steep gable roof. The main entrance is in the left bay of the street facade; six-over-nine first story sash and six-over-six second story sash pierce the house. A late nineteenth century photograph of the exterior shows a shed facade porch of the Bethania type. The original floor plan, identical to that of the log houses, survives in its original state only on the second floor, and neither original stair remains. The interior walls are plastered directly on the nogged frame, for nogging eliminates the need for lathing as well as having insulating properties. The only original interior finish elements remaining are several doors with six raised panels and hand-wrought strap hinges, some original molded surrounds and chair rails, and many of the wide vertically sheathed partition walls. All of the original mantels have been removed, but an extant nineteenth century photograph of the Butner House parlor shows a transitional Georgian-Federal period mantel which is apparently original, with a segmental-arched fireplace opening and raised-paneled ornament. The Butner House appears in the 1820 watercolor, and must have been built a few years earlier.
The Grabs-Conrad House was remodeled in the late nineteenth century, but retains its high fieldstone foundation and evidence of a central chimney. (It now has exterior end chimneys.) Some wide beaded vertically sheathed partition walls, an enclosed stair to the second floor, and vertical batten doors with dovetailed stiles also survive, This house has a freestanding kitchen, perhaps original, of identical wall construction, with an enclosed corner stair to the loft. The Hauser-Strupe House was so thoroughly remodeled during the late nineteenth century that the only original elements remaining are the fieldstone foundation, with a rear cellar, the nogged framework, and indications in the flooring of a central chimney.
The John Christian Lash House was enlarged in the mid-nineteenth century to its present size. Original fabric visible in the older left side includes the fieldstone foundation and cellar, the roof rafters and one door with six raised panels and strap hinges. The house has interior end chimneys with corner fireplaces, boxed ovolo-molded eaves, a center hall the-room deep floor plan, and Greek Revival interior finish. At the rear are two substantially-constructed brick outbuildings apparently contemporary with the enlargement: a one-story brick kitchen and a brick smokehouse. Both buildings are laid in one-to-four common brick bond and are well-preserved; the kitchen has been connected to the house and has a frame second-story addition. The only other early outbuilding standing in the village is the stone smokehouse (west side Main Street immediately south of Jacob Lash House) at the rear of the Ranke-Wilson House. The square gabled structure is constructed of dry-laid fieldstone, like the foundations and cellars, and has narrow rectangular wall slits, presumably for ventilation.
The Ed Butner House, which has interior end chimneys, was remodeled in the late nineteenth century and again in the early twentieth century. The Moravian Parsonage, built by the Moravian Church in 1852, is the most recent house known to have a nogged framework, and demonstrates the long popularity of this construction. It was originally located on the site of the 1771 Gemein Haus, immediately south of the church, where it had a cellar, and was moved to its present location in the 1960s and converted to a private residence. It is one of the purest examples of the Greek Revival style in Bethania, The house has pedimented gable ends, boxed, ovolo-molded eaves, interior end chimneys, and a center bay entrance with a transom. The former porch, shown in a late nineteenth century photograph of the house, conformed to the Bethania porch type. The present reconstructed porch has a front entrance.
In addition to the residential and religious buildings, Bethania contains the remains of a small nineteenth century woolen mill (southwest corner of junction of Loeschs Lane and West Lane), an 1899 grist mill (north side State Route 1688 [Bethabara Road], 1/2 mile east of Main Street), a late nineteenth century doctor's office (Dr. Strickland, west side Main Street, immediately south of Hauser-Strupe House), a late Victorian Pythian Hall (west side West Lane opposite Bethania Moravian Church), and a commercial building built ca.1930 (west side Main Street immediately south of Ranke-Wilson House). The woolen mill, now a private residence, is located at the southwest corner of Loeschs Lane and the west alley. This one-story brick building, laid in one-to-four common bond, with segmental-arched openings, sash windows, an exterior end chimney and a shed roof, appears to be part of a once-larger building. Its construction date is unknown, but in 1882 it was known as the Thomas B. Lash Woolen Mill, with two spinning frames and fourteen looms operated by a Coorless steam engine. Bethania has possessed a grist mill since at least 1784, when one was constructed on nearby Muddy Creek, The present mill, built in 1899 as the Lehman & Butner Roller Hill and now the Manning Milling Company, is a rambling two-story frame building located at the south end of Bethania on the north side of the Bethabara Road (S.R. 1688). On the west side of west lane, opposite the church, is Pythian Hall, originally two stories, now a one-story frame building, late Victorian in style, with exposed roof rafters and a small bell tower on the peak of the gable roof, The bell tower contains the iron bell bought in 1762 for the first Bethania church. The building, which served as the Bethania school after 1908, is now occupied by a Masonic Lodge. Dr. Strickland's Office, a small frame building with a gable end facade, was built in the late nineteenth century and remodeled as a private residence in the mid-twentieth century. The commercial building, a two-story cinder block and brick structure located on the west side of Main Street near the square site, houses an antique shop and apartments, and is the only intrusion in the Bethania Historic District.
Bethania, the second Moravian settlement in North Carolina, was founded in 1759 as a self-sufficient farming community which allowed both Moravian and non-Moravian settlers. The tiny village, now a bedroom community for Winston-Salem, has barely outgrown its 1759 town plan. Included in its thirty-three buildings are the 1809 brick Moravian Church and twelve pre-Civil War houses, six constructed of logs and six of timber frame with brick nogging. The intimate scale, the similarity of house form and detail, and the urban interrelation of the houses, linked by front porches and stone-paved walks, provide the distinctive character of Bethania, a remarkable survival of the mature early nineteenth century townscape of this experimental German religious community.
In 1753 Earl Granville deeded 98,985 acres of land in the Piedmont section of North Carolina to the Unity of the Brethren, the persecuted German Moravian group whose first permanent settlement in America was established in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, in 1741. The first Moravian settlement on this North Carolina tract, which was named Wachovia, was Bethabara, founded the same year. In 1759, to relieve the crowded conditions in Bethabara, which had prospered since its establishment, and to serve as an integrated community which also admitted non-Moravian church members, Bethania was founded. Salem, which would become the center of Moravian culture and influence in the state by the late eighteenth century, was not founded until 1766.
During the French and Indian War, repeated Indian raids forced many non-Moravian settlers in the northern Piedmont to seek refuge within Bethabara's stockade, and the "Memorabilia of Bethabara" of 1759 record that "By the 12th of May we had 120 refugees whom we tried to comfort in body and soul, and to whom the Gospel has often preached." Thus: "The place for Bethania was selected, and laid out by Br. Reuter; and early in July eight married couples of our members were selected for that Village, and to them were added eight families of refugees, to whose hearts the Holy Spirit had set forth the sufferings of Jesus, and who had united themselves into a Society, and had asked permission also to settle there on trial. On July 18th, as soon as our rich harvest was gathered, Br. and Sr. Crabs, and the other selected Brethren, moved from Bethabara to Bethania, as the Saviour wished no time to be lost."
The site chosen, a gently rolling hillside on the upland north of the Black Walnut Bottom, was within the Wachovia grant about three miles northwest of Bethabara. Reuter, a surveyor by profession, served as Moravian master planner in North Carolina, and drew the original plan of Bethania which is preserved in a 1759 Reuter map in the collection of the Moravian Archives of the Southern Province. The plan shows twenty-four town lots flanking the main street, twelve north of the central square and twelve south, and indicates buildings: a large structure in the center of the square, and a smaller freestanding structure on each lot, with the exception of two pairs of double houses, one pair in the north section and one in the south. The north and south sections soon began to be referred to in the records as the "upper town" and "lower town."
The Moravian Records, which include a journal kept faithfully by the Bethania Moravian Church from its establishment, provide a fascinating, detailed history of village life, which evolved very differently from that of the communal, regimented villages of Bethabara and Salem. Like Bethabara, however, Bethania property was owned by the Moravian church, and in 1762 the Moravian Records report that "Br. Grammern, as attorney for the Proprietor of Wachovia, has arranged leases and rents with the residents in Bethania." The Moravian Church, from the beginning the most important building in Bethania, has always been located near the central square site. The first Moravian church in Bethania had been constructed by April, 1760, on the southwest corner of the square. This log building was built on low ground and was ruined by water damage. The second church, known as the Gemein Seal, was built between 1769 and 1771 on the higher east side of Main Street in the northeast corner of the square. The condition of this combination church and minister's residence, which following the construction of the present church in 1809 was used solely as the parsonage, was described by the newly arriving minister, George Bahnson, in 1834:
"Outside it looks as black as can be, at different places the weatherboards have given way, & you can see bricks & other materials made use of for the walls, in the garret there are plenty of air holes. Windowpanes are held together by large lumps of putty, put right into the middle of 4 or five cracks through the pane. The floor is so uneven in the "parlor" that one must walk cautiously...Still we found every thing much better than we had expected...in short we felt quite satisfied with our backwoods habitation..."
By 1806 the congregation had outgrown the Gemein Seal, and the present church was completed in 1809. The Gemein Seal was used as the minister's residence until 1852, when a new parsonage was erected, which still stands.
Bethania was predominantly a farming community from the beginning, but has nonetheless able to provide most of its own services. By 1766 Bethania's residents included a tailor, wheelwright, two shoemakers, cooper, carpenter, blacksmith, baker, schoolmaster and reader, and two weavers. As early as 1762 the Bethania Moravian records report that Bethania wagons had brought goods overland from Charleston and from Fayetteville, an inland port on the Cape Fear River. Most of these men listed farming as their second occupation. By 1785 Bethania's population had increased to 108, second only to Salem with 205 inhabitants, while Bethabara had 90.
The Revolution brought problems of loyalty to Bethania villagers, whose beliefs prohibited active involvement in the fighting, and who were determined to maintain neutrality. On several occasions North Carolina threatened to force the able-bodied men into the militia, but each time the Moravians of Wachovia were able to convince the government to exempt them in return for the Wachovian contribution to the state's economy. In 1779 the North Carolina Legislature passed an act regranting the Moravians their land and other rights they had previously enjoyed under colonial rule provided they would take an oath of allegiance to North Carolina by the following May. The brethren were finally relieved of military duty by paying a triple tax, which continued until 1783. Bethania's only physical involvement with the war was on February 9, 1781, when the British army under General Cornwallis occupied the town for the night, quartering themselves in different houses and confiscating thirty cattle, numerous sheep, geese, chickens and two wagons of flour, seventeen horses and many personal belongings. The loss amounted to 1,500 pounds "valued in good money."
By the late eighteenth century, because of better communications and the westward movement of population, Moravians had increasing contact with "strangers" who brought different customs and language. In 1789 "Br. Jacob Loesch began an English school with fourteen youths and boys." On Sunday, March 19, 1809, at the consecration of the present church building, English had so invaded the town that although the morning sermon was preached in German, English was spoken during the afternoon services. By 1822 the Moravian church's control of secular affairs had nearly disappeared, for in this year the church abolished the lease system under which all Bethania property had been held since 1759, and residents began to purchase their lots. The Bethania Moravian Records note on December 14, 1822: "Today most of the house-fathers in the town bought the land which they have hitherto held under lease, each taking twenty or more acres of woodland in the process."
As nearby Salem prospered and travel became easier, Bethania lost its earlier self-sufficiency and became a satellite community of Salem: Bethania's nineteenth century industry consisted of several small tobacco factories, one tiny woolen factory, and various saw and grist mills and tanneries. Two of the factories were developed and operated by the Lash family, Bethania's foremost nineteenth century mercantilists. Patriarch John Christian Lash owned a general store (which stood until the early twentieth century beside his house at the southwest corner of Main Street and Loeschs Lane), a tanyard, saw mill, grist mill and farm. Soon after his death in 1841 his sons Israel G. and Thomas B. established a cigar factory. By 1860 the factory was valued at $10,000, and the brothers owned forty slaves who probably provided labor. In 1881, Bethania was described in an industrial directory as "...long ago widely known as the seat of the extensive cigar factory of Lash & Bros. That has long been closed, but has been succeeded by the plug and twist factory of O.J. Lehman & Co., who make about one hundred thousand pounds yearly." The only other industry listed in Bethania in the Industrial Census of 1860 has a small tannery and a tobacco factory owned by Anderson & Brothers, valued at $1,500.
The Civil War, which apparently forced the Lash Cigar Factory out of business, also demonstrated how diluted the influence of Moravian religious tenets in Bethania had become.
Many Bethania men, including O.J. Lehman, James H. Conrad, Hill N. Burner, and Levin J. Stroupe, enlisted in the 33rd North Carolina Regiment formed in nearby Pfafftown at the opening of the war. Once again Bethania was occupied, though only for three hours, on the evening of May 10, 1865, by General Stoneman and his forces, en route to Salisbury. The greatest inconvenience of this visit was the loss of horses.
The Lehman & Company Plug and Twist Tobacco Factory was active until 1896. Thomas B. Lash also operated a small woolen mill behind the Lash General Store from before 1881 to his death in 1888. An observer wrote in 1902 that Bethania "...has not lost in size and numbers, though business has been diverted to the line of the railroad, some two miles away." -
Today Bethania, a Winston-Salem suburb, does not even contain a country store. Its only commercial activities are an antique shop and a small furniture restoration shop. The village is now undergoing a renaissance, with four pre-Civil War houses now  under restoration. It appears that Bethania Hill be preserved as a Moravian village, but it is likely to retain the distinction which has set it apart from the other Moravian communities — Bethabara, a historical park operated by the city of Winston-Salem, and Salem, owned and operated by Old Salem, Inc. Bethania's revitalization is the result of spontaneous efforts by individual property owners.
Amendment and Boundary Increase
The 1975 nomination of the Bethania Historic District recognized the historically and architecturally significant area containing the earliest houses and residential outbuildings in Bethania. This Bethania Historic District encompassed the Residential Lots, church, graveyard, and parts of Orchard Lots. While the 1975 nomination was a vital first step, it is now apparent that this National Register Bethania Historic District reflects only the early residential element of this complex community and did not include the integral landscape systems, significant black community, or late nineteenth and early twentieth century architecture.
Bethania is one of the forerunner settlements of colonial Piedmont North Carolina and was located on the western boundary of the Wachovia Tract near the Great Wagon Road and astride the main channel of Muddy Creek. The creek, broad rich bottoms, hardwood hillsides, and upland terraces attracted the Moravians to this place. It is these kinds of characteristics which the boundary expansion recognizes as important to Bethania. The contributing resources are not only architectural but also include historic landscapes: agricultural fields, historic road systems, the remains of an eighteenth century mill complex, and natural features. All of these elements are combined into a rural historic landscape which must be considered in its entirety to be understood.
Before the Moravian presence, archaeological evidence indicates that bottoms along Muddy Creek were inhabited by pre-contact aborigines (Abbott, 1984:74,75,79). These sites contained cultural material including aboriginal ceramics and lithic projectile points and lithic manufactured debris. While these sites predate the period of significance for this nomination, they should contain buried deposits which would be of significance to research into native Americans and merit further study.
The 1975 National Register Bethania Historic District includes 20 contributing buildings, one non-contributing building, and one contributing site. In addition to these twenty-two enumerated resources of which 18 are primary resources, there are many resources (including houses and outbuildings) located within the boundaries of the original District which were not identified in the 1975 nomination. As a result of current research on the Bethania Town Lot system, the Bethania National Register District is being amended and the boundary increased to include 45 contributing buildings, 76 non-contributing buildings, six contributing sites, nine contributing structures, and 23 noncontributing structures, of which 61 are primary resources. The original Bethania Historic District (1975) is located at the heart of the amended and expanded district.
Because a landscape category such as the 130-acre Black Walnut Bottom is presented as one site, and because there are only three such categories (Bottoms, Upland Fields and. Orchard Lots), they appear statistically to be a minor element in the district expansion; however, in actuality, the acreage and significance of these constitute the great majority of the expanded area. Within the context of the nearly 500-acre expanded area and the networks of vast landscape features, the relatively large number of noncontributing structures and buildings have very little impact on the whole visual importance of the Bethania Historic District. In addition to the important landscape features, the expansion also includes structures and buildings dating from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century which reflect a continuity of occupation by descendants of original Bethania residents.
The village of Bethania is located in the Bethania Town Lot, a specific unit within the broader 100,000-acre Wachovia Tract, established in 1753 when the Moravians purchased the land from Lord Granville. The "town lot" term was used by the Moravians for individual town units within the broader Wachovia Tract. During the colonial period, the Moravians established six town lots within the Wachovia Tract.
In 1759, Bethania was created and became the first planned town in Wachovia. The Bethania Town Lot is a 2500-acre unit composed of various landscapes, natural resources, and topographic relief. Because of the wealth of resources, the land within the Town Lot was designed and able to provide for many of the needs within the community.
Historically, the land surrounding the Bethania Town Lot, not necessarily settled by Moravians, was heavily used for agriculture and contained farms of various sizes, from the small family farm to large plantations. The Samuel B. Stauber Farm, a National Register property, is located on both sides of Bethania-Tobaccoville Road, one-and-a-half miles north of Bethania and is a fine example of a mid-nineteenth century farmstead. The presence of large plantations is recalled in the National Register Dr. Beverely Jones House (ca.1846) and related outbuildings, which lie within the Bethania Town Lot just beyond the boundaries of the amended district on Bethania-Tobaccoville Road, northwest of the 1784 Bethania Grist Mill site. There are many other important houses from the nineteenth century beyond the Town Lot, some of which continue as farms today.
The Town Lot in its final form was a 2500-acre rectilinear area laid out by Philip Christian Gottlieb Reuter. The entire 2500-acre Town Lot was subjected to extensive record keeping as shown on the Great Map of Wachovia where Reuter used symbols to describe the various landscape features and resources. Much of the Town Lot continues to reflect these original descriptions. In the areas of the Town Lot undisturbed by subdivision, the environmental and topographic observations noted by Reuter remain valid today. For example, on the southern boundary of the Town Lot, directly south of Bottoms III, V, and XII is a hillside which remains as Reuter described: a forest with an abundance of white oaks and hickory trees on a steep mountain. This hillside is bordered by Laurel Creek, which bears this name on the Great Map and remains today a creek flowing through deep laurel thickets. This type of description is present for the entirety of the Town Lot; however, subdivision growth has intruded into the northeastern quadrant, the far southeastern corner, and part of the western edge, somewhat altering the environment as recorded historically. These subdivisions have been omitted from the boundary expansion because of National Register policies; however, they are an extension of the residential character of the Town Lot. Residential growth into the Town Lot was planned and predicted by Reuter.
The remaining, basically undisturbed core area of the Town Lot consists of the residential area of Bethania and its adjacent meadows, forests, creeks, and bottoms. These natural landforms continue in the traditional uses imposed by the Moravians in the eighteenth century, such as farmed bottoms and uplands, as well as orchard lots in gardens and woodlots. While within these traditional patterns there are numbers of non-contributing structures, they are a natural growth of the community and do not disturb the integrity of the historic landscape. Because of the vastness of the expanded Bethania Historic District, the visual significance of the landscape, and the siting and innocuous design of the mid-twentieth century non-contributing buildings, they are far less apparent than their numbers.
The most undisturbed areas of the Town Lot have been included in the Bethania Historic District Expansion, and are outlots and lands directly attached to and surrounding the residential area reflected in the 1975 nomination. Bethania is unique in its system of central Residential Lots surrounded by patterns of open field agriculture.
The expanded Bethania Historic District appears much the same today as it did in 1759. The structure of the expanded district is influenced by natural features of the environment such as streams, hills, and valleys. The most densely developed area lies near Muddy Creek in a saddle between God's Acre hill and the peak at the Stanley Moore property. The land gently rolls from upland areas down to bottoms, providing beautiful views and vistas to meadows and distant wooded hills. A variety of trees and shrubs shade the residential area and characterize the woods and farmlands which protect an abundance of wildlife including fox, skunk, groundhog, deer, opossum, squirrel, rabbit, raccoon, birds, turtle, frogs, and snakes. In the summer of 1990, a black bear was seen in the backyard of the Hauser-Reich-Butner House (also known as the Reich-Strupe-Butner House and locally as the Cornwallis House; 5575 Main Street). The expanded Bethania Historic District is a combination of features creating a rich cultural and natural landscape.
Muddy Creek and Bethania Grist Mill
The structure of the Town Lot is determined by the presence of several streams. The largest, Muddy Creek, serves as the backbone of the Town Lot and expanded Bethania Historic District, which it enters in the north. It was here the creek was dammed to provide power for the 1784 Bethania Grist Mill.
The ruins of the mill complex are visible above ground in the form of stone and timber remains of the dam with the mill pond bottom lying upstream, earthwork sections of the race, two visible cellar holes lying along the race, and a mill building cellar lying at the end of the race. The visible remains of the dam consist of a laid stone abutment against a steep bluff and the remains of cobble fill from a crib abutment 70 feet across the creek, beyond the opposite bank. Within the creek, portions of a timber frame dam are visible, which include mud sills, lower horizontal bents, portions of rear sheet piling, and mortises for the upper bents. The race extends for nearly 1,000 feet and the cellar holes contain evidences of stone construction.
The remains of the dam, race, and building ruins of the mill complex lie in a narrow open bottom and against a ridge slope contained in Long Creek Club, a golf, racquet and swim club located along Muddy Creek on the east side of Bethania-Tobaccoville Road. The mill pond area of the mill complex lies in a broad open bottomland also contained in Long Creek Club, presently a large grassy fairway with interspersed trees and greens and tees. Heavily wooded ridge slopes surround this low area.
Below the mill, Muddy Creek is crossed by Bethania-Tobaccoville Road, originally known as the Road to the Hollow (ST-28A), and winds behind a horse barn and pasture. Located mostly in woodland, the creek area is host to an abundance of creatures, with various tracks visible along the sandy banks. Fish and other aquatic life are present in the creek. Mill Creek flows into Muddy Creek past the barn, from the northwest, and the waters begin to flow swiftly through a gorge located to the northwest of the residential area, providing a boundary for the western edge of the expanded district. The dramatic topography of the gorge is composed of steep rock banks and heavily shaded rhododendron, laurel, and wildflower slopes.
The creek exits the gorge and winds lazily through the rich-fields of the Black Walnut Bottom. The bottoms are bounded by hardwood forested hills. In particular, Bottom II is the most secluded and provides sanctuary for a small herd of whitetail deer, occasionally seen searching for food in cut fields. The creek is shaded continuously by trees, shrubs, and vines which are home to a variety of birds, including kingfishers, plovers, mallards, and wood ducks. Marsh hawks hunt the bottom from the air and foxes are seen in fleeting glimpses, usually after dark. Besides the nonpoisonous snakes, the copperhead is also found, but the rattlesnake and the cottonmouth have not been observed here to our knowledge. A small creek which runs along the eastern back lane is crossed by Bethania Road and gently flows through a small portion of the bottom and empties into Muddy Creek. This streamlet pools below the bridge at the church where reeds are home to a pair of mallard ducks. Fed by several smaller creeks and drainages, Bear Creek flows from the eastern edge of the Town Lot and expanded district. It flows through bottom pasture land, is crossed by the eighteenth century Bethabara-Bethania Road, and continues through cow pasture and Black Walnut Bottom as it empties into Muddy Creek. Further to the south, Laurel Creek's cool waters drain from a northern hillside in the southern part of the Town Lot and flow into Muddy Creek below the southern hillside boundary of the Town Lot and expanded district. Muddy Creek then continues around this hillside and exits the expanded district and then the Town Lot in the south.
On either side of Muddy Creek, a patchwork of landscapes creates the diversity and uniqueness of the Bethania Town Lot. The contributing landscapes include agricultural outlets which vary in size, shape, land type, and use which are defined by tree lines and creeks. Where animals have been traditionally or are presently kept, fencing of various types may be found. Split rail, wood post and rail, and wood post and wire are the most common. The outlets fall into three major divisions: Bottom Lots, Orchard Lots, and Upland Fields.
The rich Bottom Lots are located in the low-lying areas next to Muddy Creek and Bear Creek and have been used for various crops over the years, as well as pasture land for animals. Presently, corn and soybeans are grown in several fields while others are periodically allowed to lie fallow or provide pasture for cows and horses. Domestic gardens are found in several places. Several buildings and structures are randomly situated in the bottoms, including storage buildings, horse barns and riding rings. Built from ca.1960 to ca.1970, these frame buildings display traditional forms and materials and have been used for livestock, storage, and farm machinery and supplies over the years and now mostly provide storage for hay and grains. The Black Walnut Bottom along Muddy Creek also contains a wetland which today is in a great part made up of goose and duck ponds that attract seasonal flocks of many hundreds of waterfowl. The farmers of Bethania allow geese and ducks to come and go freely without molestation, even though the huge flocks can badly damage a field of new corn sprouts planted in the bottom. Bottoms VII, IX and XIV are today used for horse barns, pasture and riding rings.
The Upland Fields are located along ridge lines and woodlands and serve as fields for crops and pasture for horses and cattle. Some uplands contained fine forests, which provided construction timber for buildings; woodlots continue on upland ridges today. The largest area of upland is located in the easternmost part of the expanded district, with Walker Road to the north and Bear creek to the south. This vast open space is used as pasture and hay fields and provides a crop for feeding Bethania livestock as well as for sale. In the expanded Bethania Historic District, a few upland fields contain structures (U.S. Post Office, mobile home, house at 5629 Stoneman Place, house at 5439 Bethania Road, and ca.1950 shed).
The Orchard Lots surround the Residential Lots and were used as extensions of these domestic lots for gardens, farm animals, outbuildings, as well as several types of fruit trees. Today the west Orchard Lots are in cultivation and pasture. A ca.1950 barn is located in these lots where beef cattle are raised for slaughter and are processed in the nearby B.A. Byrd meat processing building. This barn is also home to chickens and goats. The east orchard lots are in pasture and woodlands. A church recreation shelter and playground are also found in the east orchards near God's Acre. The northern portion of the Orchard Lots are used for agriculture and woodlots. The majority of the residential growth in the expanded Bethania Historic District has taken place in Orchard Lots adjacent to the historic roads — Main Street north of Loeschs Lane, Loeschs Lane, the Back Lane (Seidel Lane), and Bethania Road — with only a few exceptions, the houses in the Orchard Lots lie close to the road and follow the pattern of the historic streetscape. A flock of crows range throughout the Orchard Lots and are frequently seen quarreling with a pair of red-tail hawks who also claim Bethania as their territory.
Within the Residential Lots, the houses along Main Street are located close to the road which is shaded in its length by large trees. The residential area of Bethania was designed for compactness, necessary for protection on the frontier. The twenty-four, approximately half-acre each, Residential Lots on either side of Main street were positioned on a saddle between two peaks. This saddle slopes into the east side of Black Walnut Bottom, so the residential area is a pocket of high ground beside the lower bottom, but surrounded on the remaining sides by the two peaks and associated ridges. Wildlife is commonly seen in the Residential Lots and includes a variety of birds and small animals.
Historic Road System
Present-day Bethania contains an Historic Road system in place since 1759 when the Town Lot was laid out. Most of these roadways continue to be unpaved. The major thoroughfares of Bethania Road and Bethania-Tobaccoville Road, originally known as the Stage Road to Salem and the Road to the Hollow, respectively, are paved sections of historic roads. Bethania-Rural Hall Road originally joined the Road to the Hollow near where Amelia Road intersects Bethania-Tobaccoville Road today. The section of Bethania-Rural Hall Road from Loeschs Lane to Westerly Road was not introduced until the early twentieth century.
The eighteenth century road systems, when seen in correlation with the topographic maps, lie mainly on the ridges. While the old roadbeds may not be exactly followed, Bethania-Tobaccoville Road and Bethania-Rural Hall Road lie along roadways put in place in the eighteenth century, using natural ridge lines. It is along these ridge lines that the twentieth century neighborhoods have been established, with creek gorge and bottom providing natural definition and identity to each. There are remaining ridge areas in the southeastern quadrant of the Town Lot which are not yet heavily settled. This area is cut up by the drainage of Bear Creek and Laurel Creek. The ridge to the west of Bottom II, which borders a twentieth century neighborhood, is also undeveloped.
Bisecting the southeast quadrant from the southeast to northwest is the historic Bethania-Bethabara Road. In the eighteenth century and nineteenth century, this roadway was crossed by the Great Wagon Road as it passed between the Bethabara and Bethania Town Lots and headed west to the Shallow Ford on the Yadkin River. Archaeological remains of the Great Wagon Road lie approximately one mile southeast of the amended and expanded Bethania Historic District between the two colonial town lots. Archaeological evidences of this road, as well as current roadways overlying the original track, have been observed in the Wachovia area from the Dan River near Walnut Cove to the Shallow Ford on the Yadkin River (Hartley 1987:80-82; Brown 1988). The Bethania-Bethabara Road is open to automobile traffic from Bethania to a point northwest of Shattalon Drive on the ridge above Bear Creek, where it is blocked by a private gate. The original road continues as a private roadway down to the creek bed. On the northwest side of Bear creek this colonial roadway continues directly across the top of one of Bethania's highest peaks, God's Acre hill and into the north end of the Residential Lots. It also passed around the bottom of the peak by forking and came into the south end of the Residential Lots along Bear Creek at a present residential driveway. The section of the roadway which runs along God's Acre hill and by the AME Zion graveyard is now an archaeological feature, seen as an abandoned roadbed. This archaeological remnant of the colonial structure is of great importance, now a symbol of linkages established in colonial times.
Main Street in Bethania, which becomes Bethania-Tobaccoville Road to the north, is the original central street of the town and continues north on what was the Road to the Hollow in the eighteenth century. This roadway is intersected on the north end of the Residential Lots by Loeschs Lane, also part of Bethania's 1759 plan, which runs west by north to Muddy Creek. This lane was also known as the Old Richmond Road leading to that eighteenth century courthouse town. A bridge at one time crossed Muddy Creek at the western end of Loeschs Lane and remains of a recent bridge's cable support system are visible.
Paralleling Main Street behind the western Residential Lots is the Back Lane, known recently as Seidel Lane, also part of the 1759 plan. The lane behind the eastern residential lots no longer exists as a usable roadway, but the right of way is still preserved on current tax maps. The avenue to God's Acre behind the church remains as originally planned and used. Bethania Road, also known as the Stage Road to Salem, which passes along the northern and eastern edge of the lower bottoms, is seen on the early plans as the access road to these bottom land agricultural fields. The entry point of the Stage Road at the southeast corner of Bottom XII passes through a natural gap in the surrounding ridgeline. This roadbed was also the entry point of the Plank Road from Fayetteville to Bethania in the mid-1850s. This entry point has been in continuous use since the eighteenth century and remains in use as Bethania Road today, passing through the gap to link with Reynolda Road (N.C. Highway 67).
The focus of the expanded Bethania Historic District is the historic landscape. On this landscape, however, there systematically developed a collection of structures from the mid-eighteenth century into the present. The 1975 nomination created a district of the earliest and most historically significant buildings and their immediate environs. The buildings included in the 1975 survey are the 1807 Bethania Moravian Church; God's Acre (graveyard laid out in 1759); eleven two-story gable roof houses built of log or frame in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries; one stone outbuilding from the late eighteenth century; two early nineteenth century outbuildings; a one-story brick woolen mill now used as a residence; a multi-story roller mill in continuous use; an office now used as a residence; Pythian Hall/Old Schoolhouse now used as headquarters of the Bethania Historical Association; and the only non-contributing structure, a two-story concrete block antique restoration shop. The current Bethania Historic District includes outbuildings and structures in the original district which were not considered in the 1975 nomination and all architectural elements in the expanded area. In the expanded area, all buildings and structures predating 1940 are counted as contributing resources if they are relatively intact. Most of these resources were built by early Bethania's descendants and include houses and related outbuildings such as barns, brooder houses, chicken houses, hog pens, smokehouses, corncribs, privies, storage sheds, well houses, carriage houses, and garages. This expansion also changes the status of certain resources from non-contributing to contributing with the extension of the period of significance of the original district to 1940. Most of the contributing buildings and structures are along Main Street, located among the houses of the 1975 listing to the National Register, as well as a few others beyond Main Street.
Resources in the original Bethania Historic District which were not considered in the 1975 nomination include houses, one-story frame well houses, barns, silos, storage sheds, smokehouses, hog pens, chicken houses, brooder houses, corncribs, and privies. One building, located on the John Christian Loesch lot, is a two-story weatherboarded frame, gable-roofed carriage house (5576 Main Street) constructed with timbers from the ca.1825 Loesch store which sat on the lot until it was demolished in the 1920s. There are also several post-1940 non-contributing outbuildings on these lots, but they are of traditional form and materials and blend in well. Two are earlier log buildings which have been moved to Bethania from elsewhere (White House, 5530 Main Street and 1-story log building on Main Street).
In the expansion area, the ca.1880 Rufus Transou House (5556 Main Street) is a good example of the I-house in Bethania. It is a two-story, frame, weatherboarded, gable roofed I-house. Typical of this house type is a one-story porch extending across the front of the house supported by turned posts and balustrade with decorative brackets. The entrance is a double door with transom and sidelights. The ca.1864 William Stoltz House (5536 Main Street), ca.1880 Henry Stoltz House (5555 Main Street), and 1886 Parmenio Stoltz House (Main Street) also exhibit many I-house characteristics; however, the William Stoltz House features interior chimneys at the roof crest, while the others have exterior end chimneys. All of these lots feature medium sized frame, gable, metal-roofed barns from the late nineteenth century with board-and-batten or vertical board siding. The William Stoltz lot contains an early twentieth century large frame, gambrel, metal-roofed barn which once served the Stoltz family as a dairy barn and now serves as a cabinetmaker shop. Other structures on these lots include small frame outbuildings. The fine eighteenth century Ranke-Wilson stone smokehouse on the William Stoltz lot was recorded in the 1975 National Register of Historic Places listing.
Another house type found in Bethania is an irregular plan frame, weatherboarded house of one-and-a-half or two stories topped with a multi-gabled roof which is frequently punctuated by dormers. A one-story front porch runs across the irregular facades of these houses. The early twentieth century Dr. Edward Strickland House (5518 Main Street), the 1910 Charles Griffith House (5506 Main Street), and the turn-of-the-century Speas House (5537 Main Street) exhibit most of these characteristics. The two-story Speas House is the most plain of the three, while the porch of the Charles Griffith House features turned posts and balustrade and decorative brackets, and Dr. Strickland's House has decorative traceried windows. Dr. Strickland's lot also contains two non-contributing outbuildings. The Charles Griffith lot has a frame ca.1930 weatherboarded garage.
Located beyond Main Street are the ca.1880 J. Loften Lash House (Bethania-Rural Hall Road) and the ca.1900 Glen-Martin House (2255 Walker Road), which are simple one-and-a-half-story frame, weatherboarded houses with gable roofs. Each also has a one-story front porch. The Glen-Martin lot has two frame, shed roofed outbuildings. The Eula Wolff House at 5505 Main Street is similar to these houses, although it has a small front portico and it may at one time have served as a shop. This house was moved ca.1935 from the Ray Butner lot (5512 Main Street) across the street. The Wolff House has a ca.1900 frame, board-and-batten, gable metal roofed smokehouse.
The early twentieth century Hunter House at 2460 Loeschs Lane and the Mat Butner Sides House at 5500 Main Street are frame, weatherboarded bungalows of one-and-a-half-stories with high gable roofs featuring front and rear dormers. Each has a one-story front porch across the length of the house. The Hunter House has characteristic wood shingles accenting gables and dormers. It was the first house to be built along Loeschs Lane and has two frame outbuildings. The Mat Sides lot has a two-story frame, weatherboard garage/chicken house.
Professor J.W. Daniel's early twentieth century house (5655 Main Street) is a one-story gable end brick house with gable front wings at each end of the main block. It has a flat roofed porch between the wings and a double door entrance.
The ca.1935 Ed Oehman House (5550 Main Street) is a one-and-a-half story frame, weatherboarded cottage with a cross-gable roof. The entrance is at a projecting bay and stoop. There is a side porch with square posts and balustrade. On the lot is also a frame, weatherboard gable roof garage and two frame chicken houses.
A house at 2435 Loeschs Lane and one at 5620 Main Street above Loeschs Lane were built in the early 1930s. They are simple frame gable-roofed houses that were originally weatherboarded and now have aluminum siding.
Charlie's Garage is located on Bethania Road near the intersection with Main Street. This business was begun by the present owner's father in the 1920s in this hollow tile building.
At 5565 Main Street south of Loeschs Lane, there is only one noncontributing house. This 1958 house is a one-story frame, board-and-batten house with a stoop entrance. It was positioned further back on the lot than is common in Bethania to avoid the site of an earlier house and shop. This noncontributing house works with the streetscape and does not detract from the integrity and continuity. The lot has non-contributing outbuildings which continue the pattern of outbuildings in the residential area.
Of particular significance to the Bethania Town Lot and the expanded National Register Bethania Historic District is a neighborhood of black residents who live along Bethania-Rural Hall Road in pleasant countryside. This group had many of its origins in the agricultural base of the Bethania Town Lot during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, when many of their antecedents were held as slaves. The architecture in the neighborhood is mostly mid-to late-twentieth century and is not included in this nomination, with the exception of the ca.1880 J. Loften Lash House (Bethania-Rural Hall Road, south side) and the ca.1900 Glen-Martin House (2255 Walker Road).
A center for this group is the Bethania African Methodist-Episcopal Zion Church, an historically significant congregation which was established with the help of the Bethania Moravian Church. The present frame building dates to 1926 but it has been brick veneered in recent years. The adjacent graveyard is a well tended, shaded grassy area on an eastern hill near the eighteenth century Bethania-Bethabara Road. The graveyard was laid out in 1845 and continues in use by the congregation. The majority of the gravestones are simple upright granite markers, some more ornate than others. There are also upright fieldstones as head and foot markers. There are a few granite and fieldstone markers which lie flat on the ground, reminiscent of the Moravian tradition. Some graves have only temporary metal funeral home markers and others remain unmarked. The first grave has a special granite stone marker, which carries the inscription: "First Grave, Millie Lash, Buried January 7, 1847." The graveyard contains graves from 1847 to the present.
The Bethania Town Lot is an eighteenth century exercise in the clustering of single family residences with access to necessary resources on the surrounding landscape through a system of assigned Residential Lots and outlots within the bottoms, orchards and uplands. The ca.1765 Bethania Lot Distribution Map clearly shows a complex of land types (bottom, upland, orchard, and residential) clustered tightly together within the Bethania Town Lot. Each Residential Lot holder was also allocated lots within the agricultural land types according to specific need and availability, with the usual holding to be a total of six-and-a-half acres.
Clusters continue to exist, based, consciously or not, on the original plan. For example the post-1940 residential lots are still clustered, and Bethania's limited growth in over 230 years has occurred primarily on the original circulation network of historic roads. In the eighteenth century, an expansion produced several houses on both sides of Main Street north of Loeschs Lane. Loeschs Lane now has a number of houses, as does the west side of the Back Lane (Seidel Lane). Bethania-Rural Hall Road and Bethania Road have a few houses each. In most cases, spacial arrangement of house and outbuildings on the lot follows the early pattern and materials and form of buildings are compatible. Outside the expanded Bethania Historic District, other twentieth century neighborhoods are clustered on ridges in the Town Lot. The neighborhoods identify themselves by name and by elected leadership in each.
The growth of houses and related outbuildings along Main Street north of Loeschs Lane is a logical development of the linear plan. Four contributing houses are located on this section of Main Street. The other buildings are mostly mid-twentieth century one and one-and-a-half-story frame or brick veneer (5-bay brick veneered House (no address number listed), 5626 Main Street, 5650 Main Street, 5647 Main Street) and include the one-story gable front brick U.S Post Office. Behind the Bethania Post Office and on a high densely wooded hill are two recent brick veneer gable roof houses (5680 Main Street and 5690 Main Street), unseen from the surrounding area.
The Back Lane (Seidel Lane) has been developed along its west side in the Orchard Lots. The houses vary from Neal Byrd's ca.1955 gable front shotgun style cottage (5526 Seidel Lane), to his father's irregularly configured frame house (5530 Seidel Lane) which is built around an earlier structure, to the post 1950 Lewis Harp two-story frame house (208 Seidel Lane) with main facade wall dormers. The growth of structures along Loeschs Lane has taken place in the last forty years and includes, like northern Main Street, simple frame and brick veneer one-story houses and related outbuildings, as well as two frame horse barns and riding rings. One barn is located on the north side and the other on the south side. In addition, several mobile homes and two split level houses are also located along Loeschs Lane. Bethania-Rural Hall Road and Bethania Road have the most recent buildings, which include several split level houses and "colonial'' with a horse barn nearby, a brick veneer and poured concrete pump station, and an automotive garage. The other later houses are on Stoneman Place east of Main Street which has one split level house and along Walker Road.
The growth of single family residences within the boundaries of the Town Lot does not appear to be a discontinuity. It appears rather to be a part of a process set in place by the Moravians in the eighteenth century. Within the expanded district, Bethania's residential "cluster" remains in place and processually intact. Non-contributing growth along the roads of the expanded district follow the system and structure of early Bethania. Buildings generally follow in basic material that of the older structures and are sited so they do not destroy the integrity of the district. Because of the vastness of the undisturbed landscape and the siting of the later houses along the historic road system, the rather large number of non-contributing buildings does not adversely affect the overall historic character of Bethania.
Boundary Increase Significance
The 1975 National Register nomination for Bethania Historic District focused on the architectural artifacts of the twenty-four town or Residential Lots in Bethania's 1759 town plan. Subsequent research has revealed that the town plan for Bethania was much more complex than the 1975 nomination indicates, as it included an integrated and extensive system of "outlets" surrounding these twenty-four Residential Lots. Both the outlets and the Residential Lots were contained within a 2000-acre "Town Lot" allocated to Bethania by the Moravian church. In a broad sense, this amendment to the 1975 nomination is intended to recognize and record the historical landscape surrounding the Residential Lots laid out by the Moravian surveyor, Christian Philip Gottlieb Reuter, in 1759. The amended nomination also will clarify some details of the 1975 nomination such as the exact period of significance and the completion of the inventory. Whereas the 1975 nomination was unclear about when the period of significance ended, this amendment updates the original nomination with a specific end of the period for the entire, expanded district in 1940. The amended area of outlets, in tandem with the already listed Residential Lots, is significant because it illustrates the agricultural patterns of the 1759 Bethania Town Lot, a rare example of a German, "open field" agricultural village. The Bethania Town Lot, when studied in its entirety, is also a significant example of Moravian community planning and development. Bethania is the sole example of an open field agricultural village in the six colonial Moravian Town Lots of Wachovia, which were Bethabara, Bethania, Salem, Friedberg, Friedland and Hope (Hartley 1987:62). None of the other colonial towns of North Carolina demonstrates this form, which was a product of Moravian heritage combined with the requirements of a hostile frontier. Systems of roadways and field plantings were the result of the master plan devised by Reuter and are still evident in the late 20th century. In addition to the areas of significance of agriculture and community planning, the amended area of the Bethania Town Lot contains some 18th century roadbeds which were significant in the exploration and settlement of the entire area, and it also contains the above-ground remains of an 18th century mill site of industrial importance that is likely to yield information on 18th century mill technology, commercialism and trade.
Historic contexts and Background
The Bethania Town Lot was to be the first of the "villages of the Lord," compact agricultural villages contained within the Wachovia Tract and occupied by members or friends of the Moravian Church (Thorp 1986:22). Moravian Bishop August Gottlieb Spangenberg had stated that settlement by the Moravians should initially be in compact villages. In 1752, as Spangenberg was searching the Granville Tract where Wachovia would ultimately be located, he noted in his diary that the region contained the hunting lands of the Catawba and the Cherokee Indians and that the Seneca passed through the area. He cautioned that the Indians were resentful of whites and dangerous, and he took this into consideration when selecting the site for the village of Bethania (Fries 1922:48-49). Thus Reuter, the surveyor, was required to design a planned town which would provide safety on a hostile frontier during the time of the Cherokee War. At the same time, the Town Lot and its village were to provide a structure allowing successful growth of a variety of cultivated crops as well as a foundation for a variety of craftsmen. The 1759 plans for the town accommodated Spangenberg's specific requirement that the residents of the town be in close proximity to each other for support and protection by applying a design dating from the Middle Ages in Europe. This design has been called both a German agricultural town and a German linear town and consists of a core group of residences surrounded by "open field" agriculture. It is related to the early European village form called "Landschaft" (Stilgoe 1982:12-21).
Initially, 2000-acres were set aside within Wachovia for the Bethania Town lot. In Reuter's 1760 notes, he explained several of the points which had guided him in the layout of the sub-lots within the Town Lot. His plan for the entire Town lot was divided into four categories of land use: a) the residential category, subdivided into twenty-four Residential Lots, b) Orchard Lots, c) Bottom Land Lots, and d) Upland Lots. Each of the twenty-four Residential Lots was assigned one of the twenty-four, two-and-a-half acre Orchard Lots, plus lots in the bottom and in the uplands, which varied in size (Reuter, Feb. 22, 1760). The compact Residential Lot area of twenty-four lots organized along the main street incorporated houses, tradesmen's shops, church, and school, as well as barns, animal husbandry facilities, and some gardens. There were two related but distinct groups in Bethania, the members of the congregation of Bethabara who had moved to Bethania and those fleeing from the Cherokee attack who had formed into a Moravian society, a step toward becoming fully accepted congregation members. The presence of these two groups was structurally reflected in the residential core of the town. The southern half of the residential section, south of the square, was known as the "Lower Town," and was occupied by the full members of the Moravian Church. The "Upper Town," to the north of the square was allocated to members of the Society who had moved to Bethania under the condition that they be compatible to Moravian principles (Hartley and Boxley 1989:20). The twenty-four Orchard Lots were an immediate extension of the activities of the residential rectangle. Beyond the orchard Lots, in the Bottom Lots and Upland Fields, additional agricultural activities took place. These outlots and the remainder of the 2000 acres provided additional resources such as wood for construction and crafts and stone for construction. Reuter produced maps keyed to show the presence and location of such resources. (These maps are available today in the Moravian Archives of the Southern Province, Winston-Salem.) The distribution of outlets was done by casting lots, at least for initial allocation, according to Reuter's notes. These records indicate that as time passed, holdings changed hands through various agreements made between the Bethania settlers (Reuter, Feb. 22, 1760). As noted in the 1975 nomination, the sub-lots of the Bethania Town Lot were actually owned by the Moravian Church and were leased by the residents of Bethania, an arrangement which lasted until 1822.
The bottom land category of land use contained the Black Walnut Bottom which was calculated by Reuter to contain 130 acres. It was regarded by him as a scarce and valuable resource, as it had been by the Moravian settlers at nearby Bethabara as early as 1753. Because of the rich forage of cane growing there, Bethabara cattle had been wintered in the Black Walnut Bottom from 1753, the first year of Bethabara's settlement (Fries 1922:82, 112, 211). Reuter stipulated that no more than four acres of the Bottom be measured off to anyone without special permission. Within this allocation of no more than four acres, each Residential Lot should be assigned an acre of bottomland near the town "on which to plant fruit trees and other such things that must be often worked over and that perhaps the women might look after: vegetables, tobacco, and so on." (Reuter Feb. 22, 1760). A portion of the bottom was also to be held for mill sites (Reuter Feb. 22, 1760).
The Upland Field category of land was in greater supply and each person could have as much as could be paid for in rent. The Upland Lots, as well as the necessary roads for those lots, were to be duly noted in the survey book. Reuter made particular reference to the roads of the Town Lot, calling them an "important item," saying, "They must be specially examined, not only in regard to the streets, but also in relation to the lots, so that they provide access to all of them." He stated, "I should maintain my roads in an orderly manner and let them steer the way." (Reuter Feb. 22, 1760).
Reuter proposed that each "site" or set of lots from the four categories contain six acres, inclusive or exclusive of the bottom land, the latter provision made for certain residents who might not use the bottom. He made a point of recording who was actually using individual lots and if the lot was not being used by the person to whom it was allocated (Reuter 1762, Bethania Rent Book). If land became worn out from a series of plantings, the records indicate that the specific sub-lot would be taken out of service, or a process of fertilization begun (Reuter Oct. 20, 1760).
Early Bethanians kept a variety of farm animals, including beef and milk cows, pigs, chickens, oxen, and horses. These animals were kept in a number of places. There were barns and stalls in the immediate vicinity of the Residential Lots as well as at least one barn in the bottom (Reuter April 17, 1766). Fences along lanes and between individual fields were required for animal control (Reuter, Feb. 22, 1760). In the Bethania Committee Minutes, there are records of lapses and resulting animal damage to crops (Bethania Committee Minutes, Dec. 2, 1764).
By 1768, only nine years after Bethania's initial settlement, the nature of the frontier surrounding the town had changed. The Indian threat was no longer of great importance, and seven of the Moravian Brethren in the Upper Town petitioned the church administrator in Wachovia to ask that four lots in the Upper Town which were still vacant be used to widen the building lots. Their petition to Administrator Frederic William Marshall stated: "Most of us have considerable households and not much else except a way to maintain ourselves and families on small farms and the like through the Savior's blessing. For this reason we must have a little more room than what a mere craftsman needs." (Upper Town Brethren, April 2, 1768).
Additionally, after nine years in Bethania, the simple cabins which had been constructed for the initial occupation became inadequate. The Upper Town people wanted to replace them with new houses, and larger lots were necessary to accomplish that. The response from Marshall was a request for a detailed report on the new plan including "what you propose regarding the lane and the square, likewise how the cattle land can be maintained on the other side." (Marshall, April 4, 1768).
The report was immediately prepared and submitted on April 11, 1768 (Upper Town Brethren, April 11, 1768). The response from Marshall was sympathetic: "They went to Bethania at the beginning of the war and built the houses close together for the sake of safety. They did so out of necessity. To do the same thing now is not to be thought of, for the land is occupied even far beyond that point." (Marshall Jan., 1769). The need for close settlement required at the early stages of Bethania's growth was past; Bethania's residents were constricted by the confinement of the original plan and craved a few feet of extra room in the Residential Lots. Marshall recognized that fences and plantings would have to be moved and that there would no longer be twenty-four Residential Lots nor would all of the lots be equal in size. He granted the petitioners' request and added the following observations about the structure and plan of Bethania:
"It is evident that the square is involved in this plan for alteration. Its form did not enhance the village much, for it had an uneven situation that is not noticeable now since the whole thing is simply a broad street. But the chief inconvenience, indeed, was that the livestock were accustomed to lying around out there constantly. This practice is not edifying for small children and, moreover, not at all safe. In place of the arrangement, the people have agreed to what until now had been a narrow lane behind their building lots. When it is broad enough, cattle will have space there and will get used to going from there to their stalls. (Marshall, Jan., 1769)."
The minutes of the Bethania Committee indicate that some of the residents of the Lower Town also decided to have their lots enlarged during this process (Bethania Committee Minutes, May 15, 1768). Reuter was directed to perform the re-survey. His report contains information about a further action in regard to the 2000-acre Bethania Town Lot that had a substantial effect on its form and size. Reuter reported that he was preparing to enlarge the boundary of Bethania to the north for a distance of 140 rods above the old line (Reuter, March 30, 1769). The acreage was also increased as indicated in the lease arrangement for 1771 which recorded that in that year the fifteen heads of houses were to pay $2,000 for 2500 acres of land at 5% annual interest (Moravian Archives, S.P., H 272:6:6, n.d.). Thus, in 1769-1770 there was a restructuring of the entire Bethania Town Lot, changing the lot lines of the twenty-four Residential Lots and increasing the overall size from 2,000 to 2,500 acres by changing the position of the southern, eastern, and northern boundaries. This restructuring was a display of planning flexibility as colonial Moravians adjusted to changing conditions on the frontier.
Some of the early cottage industries of Bethania are addressed in the 1975 National Register nomination, but at least one site of industrial importance lies in the amended area. The 1784 Bethania Grist Mill was an important addition to the village, constructed on church-owned land and operated under contract by four of the Brethren of the Bethania congregation. The Bethania Congregation was to be paid �10 gratuity for the mill site, an annual tax was to be paid on the land, partly with grain, and there was to be a 6% levy of the toll for use of the fall in Muddy Creek. The toll was a 6% portion of each customer's grain for the benefit of the church. After these terms were fixed, the administrator of Wachovia, Brother Marshall, came and inspected the mill site and wood was cut for the dam and mill house.
The Bethania Congregation Committee signed the contract on June 15, 1784 with Bros. Michael Ranke, George Hauser, Sr., Heinrich Scho, and Peter Hauser as mill partners of the church-owned mill site. Jacob Stoltz was the miller. The framework for the mill was set in place ten days prior to the signing. The first grain was ground on August 20, 1784. Another structure was built at the mill site on the ruling by the Aeltesten Conferens that: "...the Bethania Committee should be told that it is improper for a single man to live in the mill where unmarried men and women must lodge overnight when bringing grain to the mill. Therefore they must build an addition to the mill this spring in which Jacob Stoltz can live." (Kapp 1989:1-2). The four Bethania mill partners died before 1823 and church records did not show who inherited their mill rights. George Hauser's son-in-law, Abraham Conrad, gave a bond of $320 for the mill site and 80 acres when the mill was sold on September 20, 1823. The mill was destroyed by fire in 1865, but fragments of the complex survive (Kapp 1989:1-2).
The buried ruins of the mill can be expected to reveal information about 18th century mill technology, including data on frame dam construction, mill race construction and mill building layout and function. Because the mill was reportedly destroyed by fire, it should contain material remains which would not be present if it had been abandoned and materials salvaged. Mapping of the archaeological remains of the whole complex can be expected to provide information about the hydraulic system as a whole, from the mill pond to the mill building, developing information about the use of fall in the creek, high ground/bottom land combinations and other applications of the physiography of water power.
As part of the larger tract of Wachovia, Bethania joined with Bethabara, literally, with linked Town Lot corners. Passing very close to these linked corners and directly between Bethabara and Bethania was the Great Philadelphia Wagon Road which led northward to Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania and westward to the frontiers of North Carolina and South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama. The Moravian towns of Bethania and Bethabara, together with the broader resources of the Wachovia Tract, were important centers along the Great Wagon Road for supplies, aid, protection, services and information. (The remains of this road lie approximately one mile southeast of the amended district). Other roadways linked Bethabara and Bethania with the coastal ports of Charles Town, Wilmington, Fayetteville, the Cape Fear and Chesapeake areas (Hartley 1987:35-37). The roadbeds of some of these important avenues of exploration and settlement remain in parts of the amended area and in some cases are still used as private roads.
The internal road system of the Bethania Town Lot was an integral part of the initial plan for the community and was carefully planned to provide for communication within Bethania while at the same time linking it to the regional road systems. The concept of the road system was significant enough to Reuter that he made special reference to this system in his initial discussions of the Bethania Town Lot plans. He called the roads an important item, saying that special attention must be paid to them, not only as streets, but as a means of access to all of the lots of Bethania. He thought that the roads should be maintained in an orderly manner so they might steer the way for the future growth of Bethania. The growth of Bethania was planned for by Reuter, and he said that the lands laid out behind the Residential Lots were good for this purpose and were needed for other reasons as well (Hartley and Boxley 1989:18-19).
In 1854 Bethania became the western terminus of the first plank road built in North Carolina and the longest plank road ever constructed in the world. The road ended at Lash's Store in Bethania after passing through the lower bottom (Lefler 1934:229; Hamilton 1969:5911). Also known as the "Appian Way" of North Carolina, the Fayetteville and Western plank road ran a distance of 129 miles from Fayetteville to Bethania. For fifteen years it served as a commercial artery from the inland section to the wharves at the head of navigation of the Cape Fear River region (Lefler 1934:229-230).
Because of developments like the Plank Road, the mid-19th century was a boom period for farmers in North Carolina and Forsyth County. Better transportation to markets and rising crop prices helped to increase the volume of crop production as well as the profits of farmers. The total value of North Carolina crops increased from $22,900,000 in 1850 to $33,400,000 in 1860, and land values more than doubled during those prosperous years. The 1850s saw a definite trend toward the production of corn, wheat, forage, livestock and livestock products (Lefler and Newsome, 1973:391, 393). The minor cereals — oats, rye, and barley — were of lesser importance as money crops, although more rye and barley were grown by people of German descent in the Piedmont, including Bethania (Fries, Wright, Hendricks, 1976, 108). overall, improved farmland increased almost fifty percent in Forsyth County between 1850 and 1860, and the cash value of the county's farms doubled.
By 1850 the yearly routine of Bethania was geared to the seasons and the production of agricultural crops. The yearly diaries report that wheat and oats were harvested in July and hay was made in the same month. While these activities were taking place the community also had an eye on the Indian corn in the Black Walnut Bottom and on the uplands, looking forward to the corn harvest in October. Weather was an important factor in this community and a drought was recorded in 1849 which damaged the wheat crop, while heavy rain in August of 1852 flooded the Black Walnut Bottom and did much damage to the corn (Hamilton 1969:5419, 5754). The year 1852 was a good year for wheat and oats, however, and the days around July 4th of that year were recorded by Reverend Grunert, the Bethania diarist, as "a splendid week of harvest" for those crops (Hamilton 1969:5752). Springtime brought notes by the diarist regarding the abundance of apple trees blooming most beautifully "everywhere" and peaches are also prominently mentioned (Hamilton 1969:5750, 5751). Winter brought December and its yearly mention of "butchering day." (Hamilton 1969:5424, 5630, 5964, 6019).
Within the residential area the people of Bethania kept individual gardens. The necessity of these gardens for subsistence is emphasized by the allocation of two gardens to the pastor, an "upper garden" on the east side of the residential section and a "lower garden" on the west side on congregational lots. Farmers listed in Bethania in the 1850 census had an average of 44 acres of improved land compared to the county average of 55 acres, and the cash values of their farms was approximately half the county average. Production was near or higher than the county average for these smaller farms. The county average for wheat in 1850 was 44 bushels per farm (which was half the usual average), and for Bethania farmers the average was 41 bushels. The county average per farm for Indian corn was 367 bushels, while the average in Bethania was 416 bushels. Similarly, the county average for oats was 106 bushels per acre, while the Bethania farm average in 1850 was 116 bushels. Bethania averaged 22 pounds more butter per farmer than the county farmer, six bushels more Irish potatoes, and seven tons more hay (more than double the county average ). Bethania averaged above the county in the number of horses, cattle, milk cows and swine per farm. The village also averaged thirty acres of unimproved acreage per farmer, substantially below the county average of 129 unimproved acres per farmer (Forsyth County Genealogical Society 1984:127-128, 248, 258, 264).
These statistics indicate that in 1850 farmers within the expanded National Register Bethania Historic District were farming less acreage than the county average but were producing average and above average yields from less land. The amount of unimproved land in the county averaged four times more per farm than on farms within the village of Bethania. The tradition of intensive agriculture does not appear to have disappeared from the village in 1850, and in fact is shown to have been strongly present at the mid-point of the 19th century.
During the first half of the 19th century, Bethania was the focal point for surrounding plantations of substantial size and contained in its environs one of the largest slave populations of the region (Sensbach, interview). Moravian residents of the village also held a number of slaves who were employed in a variety of ways. The doctor in Bethania is recorded as having many slaves, who lived in a large house on his lot, and the same is said of the gunsmith and the blacksmith, H.H. Butner, who was recorded as having several houses for slaves on his lot. Eugene C. Lehman, the shoemaker, had a single black slave who assisted in the shoe shop and lived in a house on Lehman's lot (Lehman 1916:1-2). By 1817 an English service was held for members of the black population in the Bethania church and twelve rows of benches were filled (Fries 1947:3357). These services were held at various times through the years until 1845, when a number of blacks asked the Bethania Congregation to be allowed to form a Negro Society as a part of the Congregation (Smith 1964:4876). This was permitted, and a graveyard was laid out for this society to be overseen by the pastor of the Bethania Moravian Church. The graveyard was in use by 1847 and continues in use today (Smith 1964:4482). By 1850, at the request of the members of the Negro Society, the Bethania Moravian Church considered the construction of a "new Negro church" beside the black graveyard, both located on lands provided by the Bethania Congregation. Money was raised for the construction, logs were felled, and the foundation laid for the building (Hamilton 1966:5521-5522). The first building was dedicated in October of 1850 (Hamilton 1966:5529). This congregation became the Bethania A.M.E. Zion Congregation which occupies its third building, erected in 1926 near the site of the 1850 log structure. (Lash n.d.:6)
The Civil War presented hardships for Bethania, as it did for the entire south. As stated in the 1975 nomination, many Bethania men served in the military, although Bethania's occupation by Union Forces was brief and resulted only in a loss of horses. By the late 19th century, however, North Carolina was recovering from the war, and agriculture, in particular, had recovered its pre-war volume, although not its prosperity. Within the Bethania Town Lot, agriculture continued to follow the yearly cyclic routine of wheat, corn and other grains, vegetables and tobacco. In periods of bountiful fruit harvests, Bethania distilleries produced several thousand gallons of brandy over a period of several weeks during the peach season (Fries 1947:3217). Various kinds of livestock were raised, including sheep for wool (Fries 1943:2754).
Commercial activities were resumed in Bethania after the war, including the 1866 partnership of two Confederate veterans, F.A. Butner and O.J. Lehman, who opened two stores, one in Bethania and another in Stony Ridge in Surry County. In 1873 the partnership was expanded to include J.H. Kapp, and another store was opened at Kapp's Mills in Surry County with Kapp in charge. In 1875 the firm bought the old Lash Store in Bethania and used it for two years as a tobacco factory. A "new modern tobacco factory" was built in Bethania on a lot bought from Daniel Butner in 1879, adding steam and working about 75 hands. The partnership manufactured plug tobacco and operated a mercantile business at this site until 1896, when the co-partnership dissolved on the death of J.H. Kapp. O.J. Lehman and F.A. Butner then formed a new partnership under the name Lehman and Butner to continue the operation. This partnership built the 40 barrel steam roller mill on the lot adjoining the tobacco factory (O.J. Lehman, 1924, 1927). This mill continues in operation today as the Manning Mill (5455 Bethania Road).
Another business operating in 19th century Bethania was the H.H. Butner gun manufactory, which "made a very superior rifle, flint lock and later percussion lock." (Lehman; 1924). The barrels were forged from iron made in Surry County, then welded, bored, and ground in Bethania. H.H. Butner sold many of his rifles in Obion County, Tennessee, wrapping them carefully in rags and carrying several loads in two-horse wagons. After selling his guns and wagons (also made in Bethania), he made the return trip on horse back (Lehman, 1924).
In the late 19th century and early 20th century the houses and outbuildings of Mat Butner Sides (5500 Main Street), Charles Griffith (5506 Main Street), Dr. Edward Strickland (5518 Main Street), William Stoltz (5536 Main Street), Ed Oehman (5550 Main Street), Rufus Transou (5556 Main Street), Professor J.W. Daniel (5655 Main Street), Parmenio Stoltz (Main Street, no house number listed), Henry Stoltz (5555 Main Street), Speas (5537 Main Street), Tommy Stocks (5620 Main Street), and Eula Wolff (5505 Main Street) were built along Main street. The Hunter House and the Hines-Adkins House were built on Loeschs Lane (2460 Loeschs Lane and 2435 Loeschs Lane, respectively) and the Loften Lash House and Glen Martin were on Walker Road. Although most are within the boundaries of the original Bethania Historic District, these buildings were not enumerated in the 1975 nomination, which is now being amended to include them as contributing resources. They represent the ongoing development of Bethania, as succeeding generations of Bethanians continued to settle in the community and perpetuate local traditions. As noted in the 1975 nomination, a 1902 observer noticed that Bethania "...has not lost in size and numbers, though business has been diverted to the line of the railroad, some two miles away."
In 1907, the first county high school outside of Winston-Salem was opened in Bethania, in an old tobacco warehouse at the south end of Main Street. In 1909 the high school moved to a new building, where 60 students were enrolled (this building is now the headquarters of the Bethania Historical Association). Some students walked long distances every day, some came in buggies or rode horses, and some parents even moved near Bethania so their children could take advantage of a high school education. Bethania residents opened their homes to board teachers and students, and a special tax was levied for all property owners within the Bethania High School District for operating funds for the school. The year 1911 saw the first class of eight graduates at the Bethania High School, and during the years of operation of this school it allowed children to obtain an education not available otherwise. The school closed in 1924 and Old Town Consolidated School on Reynolda Road (outside the amended district) opened the next fall. (Sprinkle n.d.:4)
In the early 20th century the Bethania congregation's minister, Bro. Grabs, was responsible for a broad mission of ten additional churches and chapels widely scattered from the mountains down through the piedmont section. In one period he had pastoral care of nine of these at once, in the horse and buggy days, travelling "through red clay mud which has been known to affect the vocabulary of even ministers." (Eller 1984:41) To assist in this effort and to allow more time for duties in Bethania, the Bethania Congregation presented the pastor with a brand new Ford Runabout in 1917. This automobile led to the expansion of activities and the establishment of congregations at Rural Hall, five miles northeast of Bethania, and in King, eight miles north of Bethania, in the early 1920s (Eller 1984:41-42).
Throughout the first half of the twentieth century Bethania remained a service center for its residents and the farming community of the surrounding countryside. The Butner and Butner Store, a large general store, operated into the 1930s, and employed four or five clerks. The partners in this operation, Leon, Ray, and Al Butner also owned additional stores away from Bethania. This store operated in a large two-story building, with long porches on both stories, located at the north end of Main Street. It is no longer standing.
At the south end of Main Street, the Aubrey Shore store was located in the building which had been occupied by the Lehman and Butner partnership, and this business offered the services of a cobbler, a blacksmith, and supplies from a retail grocery. It is no longer standing. Across the intersection was the Edwin T. Strupe store, which contained the Bethania post office, a gas station, a barbershop, a pool table, and grocery supplies. At the same intersection, A.D. "Punk" Wolff constructed and opened one of the first automotive repair shops in the area, which has been in continuous operation from the 1920s into the present, now managed by Charles Wolff (Charlie's Garage). This business area at the south end of Bethania was also the location of the roller mill established by Lehman and Butner at the end of the 19th century and which continued under the management of Charles Griffith. Charles Griffith also owned and operated the Griffith Funeral Home in Bethania.
Other business in Bethania operating into the 1930s included a print shop operated by Walter Strupe, a watch and clock repair shop operated by Harold Butner, and a radio shop operated by David Drage. Dr. Wilson, Dr. Strickland, and later, Dr. Speas, were located in Bethania (5518 Main Street, 5536 Main Street, 5564 Main Street) and provided medical care and dispensed medication from offices in Bethania. Well into the 1930s, particularly on Saturdays, people from the surrounding countryside came into Bethania to do business, and even at this late time, buggies and wagons, as well as automobiles were parked in long lines on either side of Bethania Road as people shopped and visited in the town (Johnny Butner interview).
Among the agricultural activities of Bethania which carried into the 1930s was the Stoltz Farm, operated by Henry Stoltz. This large dairy operation was a family enterprise, occupying a substantial barn and several other outbuildings in the center of the residential area of Bethania, and employing a number of additional hands as well. This farm used large blocks of land behind the A.M.E. Zion church and west of the Back Lane. Ed Lehman owned much of the Black Walnut Bottom and continued farming there. The traditional crops of Bethania were planted on this land and livestock was raised, under the supervision of Joe Richie, who lived in the Abraham Transou House (5519 Main Street).
General gardening and agriculture was also a part of Bethania's pattern at this time as well, as cows, chickens and pigs kept for domestic use were common, as were house gardens producing vegetables and herbs for use in the home. Many varieties of fruits and berries were also grown in Bethania, and these activities continue into the present.
During the first half of the 20th century, Bethania was a quiet town located in a rural, agricultural countryside. In the evenings people entertained themselves by strolling up and down Main Street with one another, sitting on front porches, or some might go to one of the stores for the social gatherings which usually took place there. Doors were never locked, and because there was not a great threat from traffic, children were allowed freedom in the community. There was a harmony between the races so that black and white children frequently joined for expeditions such as a swim in the creek. Bethania passed through the first half of the 20th century with the rare and valuable combination of economic stability joined with peacefulness of community.
The first forty years of the 20th century did not bring significant changes to Bethania, other than the advent of machines, such as the automobile, and other conveniences which Americans acquired in those decades. Farming mechanization occurred, along with some changes in land ownership in Bethania. Remarkably, however, because of the town's relative isolation, much of Reuter's system for the community survived undisturbed. Coupled with this material stability of Bethania, there has also been a cultural stability as well, with a number of families being continuously represented in the community from its origins to the present. It is this remarkable stability and visible continuity from the 18th century to the 20th century which is significant about the entirety of the Bethania Town Lot and its system of agriculture, roadways and industry. It is also this stability which is only now being seriously threatened by the growth of nearby Winston-Salem.
Bethania emerged from the 1940s as a 20th century town which has origins and significance deeply rooted in the history of the region. Even in 1990 many of the houses on Main Street are occupied by descendants of the colonial families of Bethania. In an atmosphere of accelerated change, Bethanians have selected values which provide for stability. Bethania is in many ways very like the Bethania which was set in place 231 years ago.
Change from without has the greatest potential for affecting Bethania. This change includes increasing housing densities in the surrounding countryside, the construction of shopping centers and office complexes, and the steady approach of the Winston-Salem city limits. The increase of automobile and truck traffic on Bethania's Main Street has been one of the most profound impacts on Bethania in the post-war years. Until the mid-point of the 20th century Bethania has had the luxury of relative isolation in a rural countryside, with the city at a distance. While Bethania continues to manifest much of the form and culture which has been its tradition for more than two and a quarter centuries, its continuance will require a formal recognition of its value and significance.
Bethania Watercolor, 1820, by unknown artist. Original in possession of present Bethania Moravian Church minister, Kenneth Robinson.
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‡ Ruth Little Stokes, survey specialist, North Carolina Division of Archives and History, Bethania Historic District, Forsyth County, NC, nomination document, 1975, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.
‡ Michael O. Hartley, Martha B. Boxley and Gwynne S. Taylor, Bethania Historical Society, Bethania Historic District, amendment and boundary increase, Forsyth County, NC, nomination document, 1990, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.
Bethania Road • Bethania Rural Hall Road • Loeschs Lane • Main Street • Seidel Lane • Stoneman Place • Walker Road